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Gold Hill is located just south and downhill of Virginia City, Nevada. Incorporated December 17, 1862, in order to prevent its annexation by its larger neighbor, the town at one point was home to at least 8,000 residents. Prosperity was sustained for a period of 20 years between 1868 and 1888 by mining the Comstock Lode, a major deposit of gold and silver ore. Mines such as the Yellow Jacket, Crown Point, and Belcher brought in over $10 million each in dividends. The Gold Hill post office remained in operation until 1943.

The population of Gold Hill was largely Cornish and was one of their main settlements in the Comstock area.

A later mining complex in the area operated from 1927 until 1942, when mining operations were shut down by War Production Board order L-208, shutting down all nonessential gold mines in the United States. Just under a hundred million dollars' worth of ore was extracted after 1930. Active mining has returned to lower Gold Hill, with the start of production at Comstock Mining's Lucerne, Hartford and Billy The Kid mines.

In 1976, Bob Gray, a former Marine Corps photographer in World War II and admirer of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad since he was a teenager, bought a section of the abandoned railway line between Virginia City and a point about two miles south. He laid track on that right of way and began operating a steam-powered tourist railroad. The track was extended to Gold Hill in 1992, and in 1994 the Gold Hill Historical Society was established to preserve the Gold Hill depot, one of the few wooden structures in the region that survived the 1875 fire in Virginia City.

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